Miles is pleased with ISU football's scrimmage;
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis stops by with his son Marcus to watch
By David Hughes, Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE — A couple of head coaches liked the effort they saw during Indiana State’s first football scrimmage of the spring Saturday morning at Memorial Stadium.
One of them was ISU’s first-year coach, Trent Miles.
“The enthusiasm was there,” Miles assessed. “Some of our execution wasn’t. I was happy with the way they ran around and tried to do things, but our execution was shoddy. It leaves a lot to be desired.
“We’re just so thin up front [in player numbers]. It’s unbelievable to me that you have so few offensive and defensive linemen in a program at the [NCAA] Division I level. We’re doing everything we can to fix it, but there are certain guys who have to play every single snap every day [in spring practice]. It’s unbelievable. But we’re fighting through it … and that’s all we can ask for now. Now we’ve just got to learn the techniques and get the execution down and pay attention to all the details.”
The other was not there to act as a head coach, but as a future player’s father — Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals. His son, linebacker Marcus Lewis of Cincinnati, will be an ISU freshman for the 2008 season.
“I thought the guys were flying around, being aggressive, hustling from drill to drill and spot to spot on and off the field,” the elder Lewis said. “I think, as a coach, that’s what you’re looking for.”
Asked if Indiana State was the right school for his son, Marvin Lewis replied: “It’s a good place to keep him in step and get him going.”
Saturday’s scrimmage lasted close to two hours and featured four completions from quarterback Chuck Dowdell to tight end Josh Jones, a former linebacker playing a position that has not been featured in the Sycamores’ offense since 2005. Three of the Dowdell-to-Jones hookups covered 34, 43 and 27 yards respectively.
“We’re gonna use the tight end,” Miles emphasized. “We’re gonna use one tight end, two tight ends. And in goal-line and short-yardage [situations], we’ll use three tight ends. We just have to go find them. We’ve signed a couple and Josh is definitely in the mix.
“Josh is having a really good spring. He’s a tough guy that plays hard and it matters to him. He’s got a lot of that pride to go out and do things the right way… We’re expecting big things out of Josh.”
“If one of those guys coming in [this summer] can be what we’re looking for in a tight end, there’s probably another position that Josh can go to, whether it be a second tight end or whatever,” ISU first-year offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick mentioned.
“But he’s really proven so far that he has the ability to play and I’m kinda pleased with how he’s progressed.”
Dowdell, a sophomore-to-be who redshirted in 2006 before starting much of last season, also is receiving positive reviews from the Indiana State coaching staff.
“Chuck’s making progress,” Miles said. “He’s learning the system. There’s a lot to learn. It’s a whole new system he’s never dealt with. This is his third position coach in three years. Once he starts to understand what coach Diedrick and the rest of the offensive staff are asking him to do, he’ll be fine, as will all of them.”
“I was really pleased with his decision making,” Diedrick added. “A couple little mistakes. One was with the depth of his drop. The other thing was the ball placement and location. Those things, we’ll continue to work on. But I’m happy with the growth that he’s made so far.”
“Things are going pretty well,” Dowdell noted. “We still had some little mental mistakes, but things are coming along.”Backing up Dowdell were a pair of former Vigo County high school standouts — Matt Seliger of Terre Haute North and Kyle Toney of Terre Haute South.
Most of the running duties Saturday were handled by Antoine Brown, a transfer from the University of Kentucky, and Darrius Gates.
“I think they run pretty well,” Miles said. “I think you’ve got two guys that are pretty good football players and that you can go out and win games in the Gateway Conference with. Darrius can run and Antoine can run and run with power. I like what I see from those guys.”
Defensive highlights included interceptions by Elliott Thomas and Quinton Scott. On special teams, Corey Varnadore converted a 44-yard field goal that bounced off the crossbar before falling through the uprights.
All in all, Miles sounded pleased with his players’ progress after their fifth practice of the spring.“They’re seeing a better understanding of the schemes,” he said. “I think you’re seeing them apply some better techniques than the first day.
“You know, we’ve got a long way to go. But they’re starting to learn how we expect them to practice. They’re not there yet. Our tempo needs to be fast-paced and we need to run everywhere we’re going and do all the little things the right way. And they’re starting to learn how to do that. So it’s still a work in progress, but at least they’re starting to understand our expectation level.”
The next scrimmage will start at about 10 a.m. next Saturday (April 12). The final spring practice will be April 19 with the annual Blue/White Scrimmage.The Sycamores will open their season Aug. 28 at Eastern Michigan.